Posted by: emjb | December 12, 2005

Happy Baby, Sleepy Parents

I haven’t wept in two whole days now; that’s gotta be a good sign. I can feel myself relaxing in a mental way, letting go of that tense, deer-in-the-headlights feeling that I had about Nathan. That sheer, gut-clenching panic that I was completely unqualified to raise a child. That I didn’t have a clue about how to stimulate his little mind, ensuring that he was never going to reach his full potential and it would be my fault. Or the simpler panic that night after night of little sleep would mean I’d keel over and drop him, or have a nervous breakdown and leave him somewhere eventually, exposing my unfitness to parent.

The sleep thing still sucks. It’s 1:30 am and Nathan just went down; I should be sleeping right now. Matt had a rough night last night, our first night back, because Nathan decided that 1-4 am was Time to Party Wakefully. Me being tired from the trip, he let me sleep until 9 or so, when I took over the morning shifts. We were both still groggy though, and could have used about 3 more hours apiece, which wasn’t an option if we wanted to do anything whatsoever today. So yeah; sucking.

But as I was telling Matt today, while it’s easy to panic when you think about Being a Parent in the abstract, which just seems impossible, when we’re actually with Nathan, it’s just fine. He’s a sweet-natured baby so far, and we’re doing fine at feeding him and taking care of him. We’re groggy, but alive. He’s fat and happy most of the time. He seems to like us despite our complete unfitness for the job. He’s not worried at all. Eventually, we tell ourselves, we’ll adjust and his sleep schedule will improve. But that “eventually” still seems too far away to hope for just yet, like summer vacation when you’ve just started the school year.

In my time at my mom’s, I managed to build up a tiny bit of confidence, mostly because I went two weeks without any major fuckups, and also because you can only stay on edge so long. Routine has a way of driving out the panic. Now I have to transmit that to Matt, until it’s all routine to him too. It might have happened already if it hadn’t been for all the physical and mental drama of the birth and afterwards, but now maybe it will have a chance to settle in. At least we can all be home together now.

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Responses

  1. Eh, babies are just blobs at this stage anyway — too early to mess them up as long as you keep putting something in them and removing what comes out of them. Not that you’re going to mess him up once he can notice! Just worrying about it proves that you’re a fit parent.

  2. He is a little blobby, true. I think what surprised both of us (stupidly) is how uncomplicated he is right now; we were bracing for something much more complex than feed, rock, change diapers, feed again. People are always telling you how hard it is to be a parent, and so we’ve assumed that the hard part was just about to show up and would suddenly require some advanced exotic baby-care technique we didn’t know.

  3. I found it incredibly annoying how people would come up to me when I was pregnant and say, “Pretty soon you’ll wish he was back inside! Sleep now because you won’t for the next eighteen years!” Etc. etc. I think these are the same people who warn you solemnly about the “work of marriage.” Several people did this at our wedding. They’re all divorced now. We still haven’t figured out what the hell they meant.


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